Curry, Covid and Confidence – my business pandemic pivot

Ela Teague shares her personal experience of pivoting her cookery business from in-person to online and provides her tips for knowing if it’s right for you. 

Covid times have given us many new terms in business, and to ‘pivot’ a business is definitely one of these. However, as I write this I think about how I began to pivot even early on in the pandemic.

I started Cook Eat Joy Cookery School in Sept 2019 and my sole focus was to give people the skills and know-how to reproduce Indian meals at home, bringing my cultural background and family tips and tricks to those who want to develop their cooking skills.

I had a clear vision of how I wanted to deliver classes – either at my own home or at the homes of my clients. This model worked well, and within a few months I had a number of clients making bookings and even referrals to friends and family.  The face-to-face classes were coming on so well that in February I took on a large class of 12 people at a local café, which was amazing. I was all geared up for one event like this a month and then, it happened – LOCKDOWN.

Lockdown life

I had been riding high with so many classes and events booked up, and then… nothing. Like so many people in business, I was in shock. I was completely dumbfounded and unable to think about what I could or should do. It was tough, I needed time to think this through and for the first week I just sat and gave myself some time.

Cook Eat Joy class

Then I struck gold – MNC! To be specific Kate Henwood’s 28-Day Challenge. I had been so busy since I started my business that although I had been meaning to set up my website I just hadn’t made time for it. Lockdown gave me the time and the 28 Day Challenge gave me support, advice, confidence and accountability – all the things I needed at that time. By April I had published my website. I now had a window to my business, however I still had no idea how to move forward.

It was scary to think I may have to change completely what I had been doing, but I knew I could do something. I spent the next few months taking time to research, network and build relationships as well as home school and parent! Again, I gave myself time to come to a conclusion as to how to move forward.

Pivoting the business

Face-to-face cooking classes are my thing, but in a Covid world, I needed to bite the bullet and step out of my comfort zone to try something new. Online classes were a natural pivot. I had some many excuses lined up, kitchen space, technical issues, my children. But I love teaching and talking to people about food and so in September I launched my online classes.

Obviously it hasn’t been plain sailing, there has been some trial and error but so far the feedback has been positive. I have even seen the advantages of not being geographically fixed with clients in Manchester, South London and one lined up for Philidelphia!

This gave me the confidence to test out a local takeaway. It started very small with people I knew well who were happy to pay for my food and give me some honest feedback. As my confidence grew with the positive feedback I decided to launch the local takeaway as another service the business was providing and so far, three weeks in at time of writing, it has been truly fulfilling. The joy I get from cooking and feeding people has spurred me on further.

Cook Eat Joy Takeout menu 
So, pivot or not?

I was reticent at first, and perhaps slow to get started, because I needed to do my research to ensure I had a market. But I don’t regret pivoting my business into this new phase. I’m still finding happiness in my job and that has come from feedback and relationships I have built up. The ‘wow’ moments I get each week fill me with the confidence to keep going.

Once we can return to some form of normality I can see myself continuing along this path too – another spice to add to the pot!

If you’re considering pivoting your business, here’s my five top tips:

1. Research what similar businesses are doing
2. Work out what extra expenses this may incur and if you can afford them
3. Work out how much extra time this will take and if you have it
4. Get advice – speak to as many people as you can
5. Test out your idea on friends, family, anyone who will be your critical friend.

Photo by Andy Hay on Unsplash 

Share this article


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Become an MNC Member

Let us help you grow your business, spark conversations and network your way to success

You May Also Like …